The keto diet, shortened from the ketogenic diet, focuses on consuming more fat than carbohydrates. By drastically cutting your carb intake -- usually to less than 50 grams per day -- your body switches to using fat for energy, rather than getting its energy from carbs. This results in the formation of ketones -- hence the diet's name. When starting a keto diet, having a structured meal plan in place is vital to help adherence. As a word of warning, always consult your doctor or a health professional before starting a ketogenic plan.
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Laying Down the Basics
Before looking into a specific meal plan, it's important to understand the guidelines of a keto diet so you can make informed choices when choosing foods. Typically, a ketogenic diet will contain a 4-to-1 ratio of fats to carbohydrate and protein. For every 4 grams of fat you eat, you should only eat 1 gram combined of protein and carbohydrate. You may be given a different ratio by your doctor or dietitian, however, and a 3-to-1 ratio is sometimes prescribed. The easiest way to stick to a keto plan is to choose foods that contain little to no carbohydrate, which means no starches, sugars, fruits or high-sugar dairy products like milk and flavored yogurt.
Make a Keto Breakfast
Toast, cereals and juice certainly don't have a place on a ketogenic dieter's breakfast table, so it's time to get creative. An omelet cooked in olive oil, coconut oil or butter, with a little cheese and some low-carb veggies like mushrooms would be fine, as would scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and cream cheese. For something a little different, registered dietitian Franziska Spritzler suggests sardines served with spinach cooked in coconut oil, accompanied by 1/2 cup of blackberries with sour cream and chopped pecans.
Constructing a Keto Lunch
Bread is out yet again, so your sandwich or bagel will have to go. To make a keto-friendly sandwich, try placing a protein source such as tuna or chicken in a lettuce leaf, adding some tomatoes or peppers, along with olives or avocado, then rolling up so it forms a wrap. Another option is to cook up a piece of beef or salmon and serve it over a green salad.
Finish With a Keto Dinner
Dinner needs to be a low-carb affair yet again. Potential options include pork chops with spring greens, steak with spinach, a turkey leg with sprouts or roast chicken with broccoli. Add plenty of vegetables to get your fiber intake up, as well as to keep you satiated. If you're struggling to get your fat intake up, cook your meat or vegetables with a little extra oil -- just choose heart-healthy fats such as olive oil rather than saturated fats such as butter or lard.
Grab a Snack
Should you get hungry between meals when following a keto diet, snacking is perfectly fine. Good options include strawberries or raspberries with a little heavy cream, unsalted nuts such as walnuts and macadamias, or almond butter. String cheese or small servings of hard cheese are also convenient, as are olives and cans of oily fish such as mackerel or salmon.